Chertsey

It’s a fortnight today since the house sale went through and we have made it to the capital. Two weeks to get to London might be construed as a bit of a reflection on the extent to which life has slowed down, but it doesn’t quite feel like that. We’re staying at a very fine campsite on the banks of the Thames at Chertsey (as recommended by seasoned campers the Dougall family) – level pitches among trees, loads of space, clean, warm and spacious showers and loos, a really well equipped laundry, helpful staff, squirrels, ducks and parakeets to watch…. Chertsey is also notable for being the birthplace of Christine and Catherine Lockey.

The site here serves to highlight the dreadful campsite facilities of some of the places we’ve stayed at so far, most notably Borlum Farm in ever more distant Drumnadrochit – what a scathing and cynical indictment of Scottish hospitality and visitor care that was.

It’s taking a bit longer than we anticipated to sort the paperwork for the car. This is not necessarily a bad thing given that the weather in northern France is by all accounts pretty atrocious at the moment with snow and ice and temperatures set to plummet over the next few days. It should get a bit better next week so events are conspiring to point to a channel crossing early next week. So for the moment we are having a bit of a rest in London. It was a huge relief to get here and settle for a few days. We went up to town yesterday to do a spot of shopping (just small things of course) and revisit favourite haunts (lunch at Maoz, dinner at Misato). The Christmas lights in Carnaby Street get my prize this year.

The pavements were sparkling as we walked back to Waterloo over the Hungerford Bridge with the spires of the Houses of Parliament illuminated against the dark horizon behind us and the Millennium Eye before us. I felt strangely detached from the scene – neither impressed by the weight of historical import nor inspired by the architectural beauty of the scene, nor nostalgic for a country and culture I am about to leave…. a recurrent feeling over the last few weeks is that I have a sense of stepping out of the scene I am in and observing myself in it, a kind of pseudo objective analysis of how this all actually feels.

Anyway, on the south bank there was a pretend Christmas market to remind us of just one of the reasons why we want to go and live in Alsace anyway.

Life in Lotte has its own developing rhythms. Everything takes a bit more time and effort than we are used to. Going for a shower, doing the dishes, taking out the rubbish all involve short walks. All the water we consume has to be fetched and all products of that consumption have to be disposed of. Buying food cumulatively takes far longer because we can only store small quantities so have to shop more regularly. Preparing and cooking food takes longer because of the lack of preparation space. We are having to be incredibly disciplined about what we keep and where we put things. But we are getting there.

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